Every day in the United States, adults and teenagers are killed by these words, “where r u, lol, almost thr, k, yep, and yeah.”
It is not from speaking these words, but rather texting these words.
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The California Highway Patrol, along with more than 200 law enforcement agencies in the state, has been focused on the zero-tolerance enforcement of the distracted driver.
The CHP wants all the motoring public to travel safely, arrive safely, and return safely and most importantly, to not drive while distracted.
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Driving is a complex task requiring a motorist’s full attention. Anything that diverts the driver’s eyes or attention from the roadway could result in tragedy. That means talking on the telephone, sending a text, changing the station on the radio, eating and drinking.
No matter what the distraction, it’s not worth it, the CHP notes.
The safe operation of a vehicle requires motorists to pay attention to their driving, other vehicles around them and constantly changing road conditions. Motorists must always remain defensive when driving; that is harder to do if they are distracted.
When I am in my personal vehicle, I see many people driving while distracted. Now put me in my patrol vehicle, the one that is black with the white doors, and distracted driving is harder to catch. Something magically happens when a patrol vehicle is around and drivers get the urge to get on their cellphones or send a quick text.
Distractions can be visual, manual and cognitive. The following are some of the distractions I see on patrol:
- Talking and texting on a cellphone
- Checking emails or surfing the Internet with any kind of device
It takes just one second of distraction to cause a collision. Multitasking increases the risk of a collision — a collision that could lead to injury or death.
These hazardous driving distractions require us to use our hands, eyes and our minds to do activities other than driving.
Have you ever asked yourself, “How did I get here?” If you have, then you have been distracted while driving.
I once stopped a woman for driving on the shoulder. She stated, “Why did you stop me? I’m traveling the speed limit and in the slow lane.” I advised her that she was driving on the shoulder and then issued her a citation for distracted driving.
Teens are considered to be most at risk for distracted driving. Reckless and distracted driving is the No. 1 killer of teens in America. They are inexperienced drivers and are saturated with technology.
Adults need to be the example for teenagers and younger drivers by focusing on the road ahead and putting the cellphone down. It is the responsibility of all of us who drive to help keep the roads safe.
If you have teenagers in your family who are driving, make sure they understand the laws and what their responsibilities are when driving.
Distracted driving is not just a teen issue; it is an issue about which we can do our part to remedy. People who commute, people who travel and people who drive for a living are all affected by distracted driving.
If you would like one of our officers to come to your workplace or school and speak about the dangers of distracted driving to your staff or students, please send me an email and I will help you schedule the presentation.
Central Division spans from Modesto to Fort Tejon, and we have several public information officers who would love to come and speak to your group.